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He grunted before smacking his hand on the clock repeatedly before it finally went off.

When Aidan fell back over in bed, Emma fought the urge to run her hands down his bare chest. He was always so handsome in the mornings—his face so rugged, his sandy hair disheveled. Instead, she snuggled against his side. When she draped her leg over his thigh, he stiffened. “You can have the shower first,” he mumbled.

“You could always join me,” she suggested.

“No, go ahead,” he said, pulling away from her. “I wanna sleep in a little longer.”

Stung by his words and actions, Emma jerked back. Salty tears streaked down her cheeks as she made her way into the bathroom. He had been so different, so distant since they had come back from the mountains. He had been working later and later hours the last week at the office. By the time he got home at night, she was already in bed or asleep. He hadn’t touched her intimately since they had made love on the pond’s shore at her grandparents.

Leaning against the shower wall, fear crippled her. Had committing the carnal mistake of telling Aidan she loved him driven him away? What happened now? Did she just pretend she had never uttered it and hope things would return to normal, or did she push things even further by demanding to know what his intentions were?

After spending the entirety of her shower crying, Emma tried to pull herself together to get ready for work. Throwing on her robe, she stepped out of the bathroom. Aidan still hadn’t stirred from the bed. Maybe she was making something out of nothing, and he was truly just tired.

She eased down on the mattress and rubbed his bare back. “Wake up, sleepyhead, or you’ll be late for work.”

He grunted as he rolled over to face her. “Fucking job from hell.”

“You haven’t forgotten what today is?”

“No, it’s the baby’s gender sonogram.”

Emma smiled that he remembered. “It’s at four. You’ll still be able to make it, right?”

He fisted the sleep out of his eyes. “Sure. I had Marilyn cancel all my afternoon appointments.”

Leaning over, Emma gave him a quick kiss. “I’m glad to hear that.” A contented sigh escaped her lips. “I can’t wait to see if your dad and Grammy are right about it being a boy.”

“Yeah, that’ll be something,” he said, his voice devoid of emotion. From his tone, she might as well have been discussing whether it was going to rain outside, not what his first born child would be. Instinctively, her hand went to her abdomen as if to protect the baby from Aidan’s callous attitude. When he swept his gaze to hers, she ducked her head so he couldn’t read the hurt in her eyes.

“So I’ll see you this afternoon,” he said, flinging the sheet back.

Unable to speak for fear of sobbing, she merely nodded.

Without another word to her or a goodbye kiss, he hopped out of bed and stalked into the bathroom.


When Aidan glanced at himself in the bathroom mirror, he shook his head in disgust. “Yeah, that’s right, drive the stake into her heart even deeper, you f**king ass**le,” he muttered under his breath.

Defeated, he turned on the shower. Standing under the scorching water, he let it pound and singe his skin. He rolled his shoulders from the burden that hung heavy around him. The one he felt cloaked and suffocated by since the day on the dock. Damn that day—the one that had completely f**ked up his life. At times, his lips burned from Emma’s declaration of love against his mouth after their kiss. Even his fingers tingled, and he could almost feel the baby’s movement under them.

Love like he had never known entered him that day, and instead of embracing it, he kept railing against it.

Closing his eyes, all he could see was Emma’s rejected form in the bedroom, the silent sobs she tried to hide from him. Would it really have killed him to show her a little more attention and kindness on today of all days? He groaned and banged his head against the shower wall. No, he’d gone full on bastard by refusing her advances and acting like a total douchebag about the ultrasound.

Damn, he was just exhausted. The constant traveling and the late hours were wrecking him physically. Then everything with Emma was tearing him apart emotionally. He couldn’t sleep without taking something, and he usually had to chase that with alcohol to even get it to work. The more he was in Emma’s presence, the more he felt like he was drowning. Like a true coward, he tried avoiding her as much as possible. Some nights he debated sleeping on the couch in his office.

He didn’t know what he was going to do. But something had to give.


For the rest of the day, Emma felt overcome with giddiness. She refused to let Aidan’s morning attitude ruin her excitement. Casey lifted her spirits by taking her out for a pre-celebratory lunch. Then at a little after four, she pushed through the doors of her OB/GYN’s office and tried to fight her out of control nerves.

When she started to sign in, the receptionist gave her an apologetic smile. “It’s probably going to be awhile. Our technician got held up at the Sandy Springs office.”

Emma’s heart momentarily sank. “You’re kidding? You mean I’m going to have to wait even longer? I’m already about to bust!”

“I can only imagine! She’s trying to get over here as fast as she can.”

Emma grinned. “I understand. I’m just glad I can find out now. I don’t know how women waited nine months in the past.”

The receptionist laughed. “I know, right? But I promise we’ll call you back the minute she walks through the door.”

“Thanks.” Emma then plopped down in one of the comfy chairs and took her iPad out of her purse. She thought she might as well read until Aidan or the technician showed up. She got so lost in her romance novel she barely realized her phone was ringing. Grabbing for it, she saw it was Aidan calling. “Hey, where are you?”

When he spoke, his voice was hushed, and she knew he must’ve been in a meeting or right outside of one. “The f**king CEO showed up out of nowhere two hours ago wanting to go over all the reports we’ve been working on. I don’t know if I’m going to be able to make it.”

“It’s okay. The sonogram technician is running late from one of their other offices. Just try to come whenever you can, okay?”

“Okay. I’ll try.”

“Love you,” she said.

The only response she got was the click of the line going dead. At first, she tried reasoning with herself that he had to go because of his job. But arguing with herself didn’t help. She fought the overwhelming urge to burst out in tears. Not only was she facing the sonogram alone, but Aidan hadn’t even bothered to say good-bye. And he still refused to say he loved her back.

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